A DEADLINE day bid from Crystal Palace was not good enough to pry Jermaine Easter from Karl Robinson’s grasp.
The Welsh hitman may have only scored twice in the opening seven games of this season, but he has picked up the Citizen’s Player of the Month award for August, with an average of 7.17 from reporter Toby Lock’s post match ratings.
With Sam Baldock picking up the award for Football League Young Player of the Month too, the front pair are gelling well together and are justifiably Robinson’s first choice strike partnership at present.
Easter’s two goals this season came against Blackpool in the dramatic Carling Cup tie last month, but the striker thinks he should have more goals to his name.
He said: “I felt I’ve played well in certain games and could have done better in others. I think I should have more goals from my point of view - it’s what I thrive on, but I’m reasonably happy and hope I’ll get better.”
While Dons remained quiet on transfer deadline day, boss Robinson turned away a bid for Easter from Crystal Palace - a bid that Robinson believes fell well short of the true valuation of his striker, and well short in terms of calibre for a player of Easter’s worth.
“I turned down a bid because Jermaine should not be going to a low Championship club like Crystal Palace,” Robinson said.
“He should be playing at the top half of the Championship, or even in the Premier League. I believe he’s good enough, as is Sam Baldock.
“There was no way I was going to let him go for an offer that we felt was nowhere near what we value him at. There are players going for more than half a million pounds who could not even lace Easter’s boots.”
And Easter himself reiterated his desire to stay at the club.
He said: “It’s flattering to get a Championship club knocking on your door, but my focus is on Dons and playing my part in getting them promoted.”
Easter was given captain’s duties against Brighton in the absence of Dean Lewington, ahead of experienced old heads Sean O’Hanlon and Dietmar Hamann. But Robinson justified his choice.
“People don’t see Jermaine’s attitude on a regular basis,” he said. “The way that he conducts himself is to be applauded. The work he puts in for Sam is due to the fact that he’s playing alongside someone who puts the work in for him.
“He leads by example all the time. He’s one of the best professionals at the club. The club means a lot to him and his attitude has been tremendous.”
Easter signed from Plymouth Argyle last summer - the second of Paul Ince’s signings in his return to the club - and went on to be the club’s top scorer.
However, since Robinson took over at the helm, there has been greater competition for places all over the pitch, not least up top. But with Jabo Ibehre and Aaron Wilbraham both looking for a place in the starting lineup, Easter believes that his growing relationship with Baldock will help the club move forward.
“You want to play for a good football club then you have to got to have good players and fight for your place,” he said.
“This is a club that is going places and wants to go and play in the Championship and that’s what every decent player wants.
“I think the relationship with Sam works. With Aaron last season, we had a direct approach to the way we played the game. The way the boss wants to play is to get the ball down and pass it, so we don’t need a target man.
“We both like to get the ball in to feet, he can go in behind, I can go in behind, he can come short, I can come short, so I think it works well.”
Easter will be looking to add to his goal tally in the coming weeks as Dons face several key matches in quick succession, including mouth-watering away trips to Birmingham City in the Carling Cup third round, then Peterborough and Charlton.
Second to Easter in the player ratings was loan man Angelo Balanta on 7, closely followed by Luke Chadwick on 6.8. At the wrong end of the table for August is keeper David Martin on 6.1 and Danny Woodards (6.3).